The spectrum of divination-driven activities or divination-oriented goods and entertainment has generated enormous profit, yet it remains an industry that receives little attention in mainstream business reporting. I believe that we should pay attention to aspects of divination since 2000 that are new or different. Girls and women are a force behind many financially lucrative markets, but this trend is often overlooked because of the “feminized” nature of these cultural products and services. For example, in my study of the beauty industry (Miller 2006), i found that in 2003 there were 173,412 documented beauty shops. By contrast, that same year there were 7,530 wedding and funeral services, 67,789 auto repair shops, and 14,136 software businesses, economic domains that have been the intense focus of scholarly and business reporting and interest, while the beauty industry remained virtually invisible. Although the divination industry is similarly gendered, it is almost always the focus of negative reporting in the Japanese media, where it is trivialized or demonized. The two girls with whom i spoke in the shibuya accessory shop about
The astrological charm referred to Popteen as the inspiration for the selection of such an object. The role of print media, especially magazines and manga, is critical to understanding the escalation of interest in divination and the occult among girls and young women. Monthly manga magazines and publications include special free insert giveaways called furoku. Prough (2011) has discussed how these are used by manga publishers to entice readers. But various magazine publishers also include these inserts, and since 2000 many of the inserts have taken the form of punch-out divination goods, oracle cards, or tarot cards. Several mid-twenties women who were avid connoisseurs of beautiful tarot card decks said they became interested in studying this art because their girlhood magazines often carried tear-out furoku sheets of colorful And unusual tarot cards that fascinated them. They recalled that the free cards were something they and their friends talked about and shared.
By looking at some of the newer forms of divination, particularly varieties of borrowed, hybrid, and reinvented occult practices that have emerged in recent years, we attend to an under-analyzed and gendered industry. Additionally, i hope we might understand the function of divination as a form of entertainment or social play. Thomas (2007) has written about how Miyazaki anime films are a conflation of religion and entertainment. I also see “occult play” as an aspect of the revitalized divination industry.
Similar to divination systems everywhere in the world, the ones consumed by girls and women in Japan are presented in such a way that the prognoses might suit almost anyone. Rather than advocating the efficacy of their forecasting results, many girls and women told me that whether or not divination is true or accurate, they were able to gain some useful insight into a personal situation just by virtue of thinking about it in a focused manner. When they talk about their worries and concerns with someone, such as a divination provider or their friends who participate in a divination activity with them, they feel that they have taken a step toward understanding the issue from a more dispassionate stance, and this step in turn aids them in decision making. Thus talking about their worries within the framework of the divination activity is seen as a legitimate move rather than a self-centered monopolization of a conversation. When the divination activity is framed as a fun, entertaining friendship activity, it also shifts the orientation away from behavior that might otherwise be seen as egotistical self-involvement.
1. All the names used for those i interviewed or spoke to are pseudonyms.
2. Cake Divination (Kēki uranai) at u-maker.com/17010.html. Accessed December 11, 2011.
3. Goo research, “ranking of Divination i'd Like to try” (yatte mitai netto uranai rankingu), at ranking.goo.ne.jp/ranking/010/net_uranai/. Accessed December 11, 2011.
4. There is a theory in Japan that one reason for the popularity of this native blood typology system is that there is a distribution of the four blood types among the Japanese population that is much less skewed than in some other populations. According to Fujita, tanimura, and tanaka (1978), it is 29.25 percent O, 38.65 percent a, 22.15 percent B, and 9.95 percent aB. Compared to anglo-american and some european populations, the frequency of the four blood types in
Japan is much less bunched into one or two categories as it seems to be in those Populations. However, in terms of worldwide distributions Japan is not unique in this regard. Among Latvians, Hungarian rom, egyptians, Persians, and other populations the blood type frequencies are similar to those found in Japan.
5. Korean Food Divination at k-plaza.com/life/ life_uranaitop.html. Accessed January 22, 2008.
6. In 2012, the seimei shrine announced on its Facebook page that it was selling a special pretty blue combination amulet–lottery oracle created to celebrate the summer tanabata festival and only available for a few months.
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